Today, 12 July 2011, the Planetary Society submitted into testimony a written statement to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives for their hearing on NASA's Space Launch System.
The statement reads, in part:
The Planetary Society is deeply troubled with the direction the agency is headed in and the wrong-headed decisions that are driving the human spaceflight program into the ground.
We are particularly upset with the cuts to NASA funding proposed by the House Appropriations Committee. While we all recognize the fiscal and economic challenges the nation faces, we believe the proposed cuts reflect perverse priorities and are too far reaching, in particular the proposed termination of the James Webb Space Telescope and cuts to Earth Science.
Most disturbing is that cuts to world-class science are being used to pay for increases to develop a new rocket -- the Space Launch System (SLS) -- that has no mission goals, that NASA cannot afford to build, that will not advance exploration.
With the intense fiscal pressure facing all agencies, NASA should focus on making the most efficient use of the money allocated to it. This means setting priorities and making decisions based on merit and readiness. It will be painful, but it is necessary. Most importantly, it is time to put wasteful programs aside, such as the SLS. We can no longer afford it, and it's an abuse of the agency's mission.Download the full report here (PDF)>>
Those are strong words, but it's time to call out the strongest weapons we have in this fight to save our future in space. We've got to stand up to the narrow, parochial interests that are forcing NASA to build a rocket it doesn't want -- because neither the U.S. Congress nor the Administration has defined a mission for it.
This rocket to nowhere is inflicting painful damage on other NASA programs -- you'll see science -- both earth and planetary -- cut again. The new technology program that was to create the means to explore space more efficiently and more effectively will take a devastating hit. And the funds to jump-start a commercial rocket industry that could provide the long-sought affordable access to space were cut in half.
You and I must do everything we can to prevent this from happening. It's going to be a long, hard, and drawn-out fight to put space exploration back on a track that can take us into a future where our dreams become possible.
If you haven't already signed the Planetary Society's petition to Congress, you can do so here >>
or those of our friends living outside the U.S., you can send your petition to the Administration from here >>
Only together do we have a chance of winning this battle.